The objective of this assignment is to demonstrate an
understanding of thermal subsystem theory, components and design
1. Answer the following basic qualitative thermal subsystem
questions. They can all be answered with a few sentences at most:
a) What is the primary function of a satellite thermal
b) What is the difference between an operating
temperature range and a survival temperature range.
c) What are the three primary heat transfer
mechanisms? Which one is often not applicable for certain
spacecraft applications/analyses - and, give a specific example of when
this specific mechanism IS a critical part of the thermal analysis for a
d) Briefly describe the terms reflectivity,
transmissivity, absorptivity, and emissivity.
From the perspective of thermal design, what is a “selective”
surface (or surface material, or surface coating, or surface
characteristic), and how is it useful?
f) How is the amount of radiated heat flux from an idealized
black-body related to the temperature of the body?
g) What are the three primary environmental (i.e. external) thermal inputs for LEO
h) What is the Beta angle of an orbit, and why is it
important for thermal design?
i) Why are many thermal tests performed in a vacuum?
j) How do second surface reflectors achieve such dramatic
absorptivity to emissivity ratios when facing the sun?
k) Why is conductance through a joint problematic?
l) Explain how you could "manage your power loads" (meaning
that you could turn components on and off) in order to influence (and
thereby control) the temperature at different points in your
satellite. Note that this might be considered a non-traditional
approach to thermal management, but it is often exploited on small
spacecraft and/or during contingency operations when anomalies exist.
2. Answer the following basic quantitative thermal subsystem
questions. Mind your units!
a) Consider a spherical cryogenic tank that is cooled
to 30ºK. The tank has a diameter of 0.25m. For the purposes of this
problem, the thickness of the tank wall is negligible; however, the
exterior of the tank is covered with an insulation blanket that is 2 cm
thick. The exterior of the blanket is 300ºK by virtue of the external
thermal environment. The thermal conductivity of the insulation is 0.003
W/mK. Because it affects the design of the cryogenic cooling system,
you must estimate how much heat flows from the exterior to the interior
(in W). Provide the equation you will use to do this as well as the
numeric solution (in W).
b) Consider a 0.5m x 0.5m flat isothermal radiator
that "sees" only deep space and which has an IR emissivity of 0.8. This
radiator is used to reject heat from a transmitter, which is bolted to
the radiator with a metal-to-metal contact area that is 8 cm x 8 cm and
with a joint conductance of 1200 W/m2K. Assume that all other
sides of the transmitter are heavily insulated such that that all of the
100W of heat dissipated by the transmitter is rejected to space by the
radiator, analyze this system by finding the radiator temperature and
the transmitter temperature.
c) Imagine a spherical satellite orbiting the sun. For any
relative orientation to the sun, the exposed area to the sun is constant
(it is always pi*R2 where R is the satellite's radius).
Accordingly, if the sphere's surface has a constant absorptivity, then
there is no variation in absorbed solar energy as a function of the
orientation of the satellite.
Now, consider the same situation for a cube-shaped satellite (assume
the satellite's surface has constant absorptivity). Determine the
relative cube-sun orientations for minimum solar absorption and maximum
solar absorption. Describe these orientations. Find the
ratio of maximum absorption to minimum absorption. Is this value
significant enough that you think you would have to consider relative
orientation to the sun for a cubic spacecraft?
d) A 50W payload (which can be turned completely on or
completely off) must be kept in a temperature range of -10 to +10ºC.
One side of this payload is a radiator that has an emissivity of 0.9 and
which is positioned to emit to space; the radiator and payload have the
same temperature and are perfectly coupled in a thermal sense. The
payload continuously absorbs 10W of constant heat transfer from
neighboring devices within the spacecraft. How big should the radiator
be in order to keep the payload below its maximum temperature? What
maximum heater power is necessary to keep the payload at its minimum
3. Perform a series of simple thermal balances similar to the ones
shown on the thermal lecture slides 39-44. For this case, consider
a flat plate that is directly between the sun and the Earth, with one
flat side pointing perfectly at the sun and the other flat side pointing
perfectly at the Earth. We will assume that the edges of the plate
are perfectly insulated such that they neither receive nor release any
energy. The plate is above the Earth at an altitude of 800 km,
and the albedo factor a=0.3. The area of each side of the plate is
m2. The plate is not internally dissipating any energy.
a) What is the value of Jsun?
b) What is the value of Jalbedo? Note that
this is heavily dependent on the value of F that you use, which is a
bit difficult to read/estimate from the appropriate plot. Be
sure to specifically state the value of F that you are using.
c) What is the value of Jplanet?
d) What are Asun, Aalb, Aplanet, and Asurf?
e) For (absorptivity/emissivity) =1, what is the steady state
temperature of the plate
f) If the plate is dissipating 250W internally and is coated with
white enamel paint (#18 on the table shown on slide #40), what will the
g) Now assume that the plate is no longer dissipating any energy. If
you desired the temperature to be 30C, what (a/e) value would you like
to have for your surface properties?
h) Now assume that the plate is rotated by 30 degrees. Would you
expect the steady state temperature to go up or down? Why?
4. A cubic LEO satellite with 1m sides orbits at 1,000
km altitude with a beta angle of 90º. As the satellite orbits,
the satellite's -z face points to the Earth, the satellite's +x face
points in the direction of orbital travel, and the satellite's +y face
always faces the sun. This problem attempts to walk you through
the process of finding the orbit-averaged heat flux contributions from
direct solar and Earth IR for each face of the satellite (given the
orbit, we will neglect albedo), with an emphasis on using the charts in
the slide package to determine view factors. Use 237 W/m2
as the Earthshine value and 1358 W/m2 for the direct solar
input; in addition, let solar absorptivity and infrared emissivity both
a) What is the Earth IR flux (in W/m2) at
this orbit? Determine this in 2 ways.
First, note that a simple approximation for the heat
contribution from the Earth infrared source is to use a simple inverse
square law. This approximation assumes that a given surface (or
its effective area, such as a spherical cross-section) is pointed
directly at the Earth. For example, on Slide 30, you are given
an inverse square law equation for determining the IR radiation on a
surface at a given orbit altitude. Compute Jir using this
Conversely, consider the geometric curves on Slides
21-24. For a square cross-sectional area in orbit above the
Earth, specifically consider the curves on Slide 24. The x-axis of
this chart quantifies the ratio of altitude to the radius of the Earth
(figure this out for the given problem). If the square surface is
pointing directly at the Earth, then lambda is 0 (so, use that
specific curve). Given these values, look up the View Factor and
compare to what you get for the inverse square law.
b) To perform the full analysis for the satellite,
fill out the table below. You will need to visualize the
geometric scenario described in the first paragraph of this problem.
First, for each side of the satellite (+z, -z, +y,
-y, +x, -x), determine the amount of direct solar energy on each face,
and enter these numbers in the first row of the table.
Second, consider how much IR heating from the Earth
impacts each face. To do this, you need to look up the
appropriate view factors using slide 24 given the geometric situation.
One of the faces directly faces the Earth, matching the scenario you
considered in part (a) of this problem. Another face, doesn't
'see' the Earth at all, and it therefore will have a view factor of 0.
The other faces are perpendicular to the Earth's surface - you can use
Slide 24 to determine the view factor for these sides, given a lambda
value of 90 degrees. Enter the view factors for each side on the
second row of the table, and then using these values use the third row
of the table to compute the amount of Earth IR energy incident on each
On the fourth row, add together the solar and IR
inputs to get the total input for each face.
|Solar input (W)
|Earth view factor
|IR input (W)
|Total input (W)
c) What is the total combined input for all faces?
d) If the satellite internally dissipated 250W, what
would be the approximate steady-state temperature of the satellite
(we'll assume a high thermal mass, a single node, etc.)?